Building and delivering a successful Major Gift programme

Discussion at our Big Thinkers round table event on Major Gift fundraising in Autumn 2012 demonstrated that, despite being recognised as an important income stream for many charities, there is a real lack of knowledge sharing around Major Gift fundraising and very little publicly available information. As a result, in partnership with Institute of Fundraising, Good Values undertook new research into Major Gift fundraising in the UK today.

50 Major Gift fundraising professionals, including research participants, were invited by Good Values to attend a ‘Big Thinkers’ event in June 2013 to exclusively preview and then discuss the findings of this new research.

Good Values presented the key findings of the research – including good practice, key challenges, how success is measured, return on investment, and the key watch points and learnings.

The presentation was followed by a lively panel discussion with Louise Parkes, Director of Fundraising at the British Heart Foundation, Paul Jackson-Clark, Director of Fundraising at Parkinson’s UK, and Kath Abrahams, Director of Fundraising at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, followed by a Q&A session facilitated by Good Values.

Key subjects that arose from the discussion included the importance of good collaboration across the organisation – and most especially at Trustee and CEO level – when identifying prospects, having a tangible and inspirational case for support, and managing organisational expectations in terms of the scale of success a Major Gift programme can deliver, and within what timeframe.

Taking the time and dedication to foster real relationships with Major Donors and prospects, and putting them at the centre, also emerged as crucial. Likewise, building relationships with senior members of your organisation is important to not only secure their buy-in, but also to gain access to their networks.

Interestingly, some smaller organisations are outperforming larger organisations in the success of their Major Gift programmes. This highlights that scale is not everything, but, on the contrary, the ability to remain flexible and personal – and to broker meetings between a prospect and the organisation’s decision makers – are what really count when dealing with Major Donors.

This is a short summary of the full discussion. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

Our full research report, ‘Major Gift fundraising: a snapshot of current practice in the UK non-profit sector’ is now available.

If you would like to attend our next Big Thinkers event, and/or have any suggestions for future discussion topics please let us know. Likewise, if you have any questions about the research, we’d love to hear from you.